...far off but Microsoft has big ambitions in the gesture arena, going beyond gaming and right into the office. It has demoed voice, touch and gesture recognition in an office of the future where the desk is a multitouch surface computer, and the walls a digital display that can switch to create new workspaces, display photos or virtual to-do lists.
Business relevance of gesture interfaces
In the same way that the launch of the iPad, a consumer-focused media-consumption gadget, has rekindled enterprise interest in tablets, Kinect's marketing of gesture interfaces to consumers shouldn't pass business by.
Gesture-based interfaces and the underlying computer vision software offer opportunities to overhaul business processes and create innovative new products. We're probably years away from the boardroom table being dismantled and PowerPoint presentations archived forever in favour of collaborative, gesture-based meetings where the exec team really do get together to sweat out the details.
But computer vision software is already firing the imagination of tech entrepreneurs outside the walls of Microsoft, offering businesses the ability to identify particular objects or create perfect 3D replicas of objects and even humans, for instance.
One UK software start-up, Me_tail - whose co-founder worked on some of the tech in Kinect at Microsoft's research facility in Cambridge - is using computer vision software to create photo-realistic models of shoppers, so they can try on clothes without leaving the comfort of their living room. Museums are also using the tech to create digital archives of their collections. Other future commercial applications could include estate agents creating exact replicas of houses they are selling - or, on a smaller scale, eBay sellers uploading digitised items for buyers to peruse.
As professor Roberto Cipolla, MD of Toshiba's Cambridge Research Lab and professor of information engineering at Cambridge University, told me earlier this year: "This is going to be the decade of computer vision."
Sounds like it's time for the business world to stand up and be counted.